The two sides continue to talk as the Phillies seek to avoid going to arbitration with Howard. The two sides are looking to find a compromise somewhere between the $18 million that Howard wants and the $14 million that the Phillies want to pay.
Howard is the only remaining arbitration eligible player that the Phillies have on their roster.
By the way, of the ten arbitration eligible players that the Phillies had coming into the off-season, it was thought they would have to spend an additional $19 million for all of them. So far, the increase is at about $12.3 million without factoring in Ryan Howard's increase. In other words, even if Howard were to get his $18 million, the Phillies would have come out in pretty good shape.
|Phillies reliever Scott Eyre talks about picking up the slack for J.C. Romero and what he thinks about Romero's suspension. He also discusses how careful all players have to be with any supplements they take.|
If you're hoping the Phillies would be signing another starter, stop hoping. Ruben Amaro told Philly Baseball News that his hunt for starting pitching was over, but that he was continuing other pursuits. Most notably, depth for the bullpen and a right-handed bat to bring off the bench.
The Phillies pursuit of bullpen help has talking to Will Ohman. The left-handed Ohman would give the Phillies coverage for J.C. Romero's absence early in the season, helping to take some pressure off of Scott Eyre. When Romero would return, could the Phillies afford to have three left-handers in the pen? The three allowed right-handers to hit a combined .268 against them last season, with Romero being hit the hardest at a .281 clip. Right-handed hitters hit Ohman at a .256 clip and Eyre at a .267 clip.
You can add Eyre to the list of players who believes Romero got a bad deal by being suspended for 50 games. "I don't know the whole deal, but if he did do what he says - and I have no reason to doubt it - then I think he's getting the short end of the stick." For his part, Eyre is extremely cautious about anything that he takes. "I talked to our strength guy about taking just the simple protein bars for a mid-day snack or something and he said 'I'll get you some from the manufacturer, so it's safe' and that's what we have to do, basically," said Eyre.
To find a right-handed bat, the Phillies have shopped Geoff Jenkins, but haven't found any takers, most likely because of his contract. Jenkins is set to make $6 million this season and has a $7.5 million option (or a $1 million buyout) for next season. The option would become guaranteed if Jenkins were to have 525 plate appearances this season, something that he hasn't done since 2006 with Milwaukee.
Free agents Jay Payton and Emil Brown don't interest the Phillies, but former Dodger Nomar Garciaparra does. Garciaparra has a couple of teams interested in him, but he hasn't decided whether he wants to play in 2009 or retire.